Friday, July 08, 2005


The AP just released a piece stating that the EPA has found that the chemical used to make Teflon, PFOA, has a higher chance to cause cancer in lab rats than DuPont initially stated.

The headline: Board: Teflon Cancer Risks Downplayed

Please note: TEFLON Cancer Risks Downplayed.

It then goes on to generally beat about the bush, stating that PFOA is bad for lab rats, but DuPont says there's no evidence that it causes cancer in humans yet, on this fourteen paragraph scare tactic. There I was, panicking, hoping that I'm not going to get colon cancer from the 8 million grilled cheese sandwiches I cooked on our Teflon coated pans, only to find this gem dropped in the very last paragraph.

While PFOA is used to make Teflon, it is not present in Teflon itself, which is applied to cookware, clothing, car parts and flooring.

And people wonder why I hate the MSM. Facts are irrelevant. Only spin and swaying public opinion matters anymore. They even featured a photo of Teflon coated frying pans for this piece, even though you can't get cancer from Teflon.

I'm sure their war reporting is entirely accurate, though. I mean, they care enough to not spin a Teflon report, right? Oh, wait.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Okay, so I did something incredibly stupid two nights ago.

I was struggling with my new PC build. First, I couldn't get power to my video-card, when it was just the new motherboard, RAM, and main CPU chip. Then, the retailer told me that I needed a 24 pin power supply, so I bought one. Still, no signal to the monitors.

So this time I take it in to the retailer. Their business card I got at the computer show says they're open on Sundays, from 11 to 6. So I drive the half hour out there and whadyaknow, they're now closed on Sundays. One long holiday weekend later, and I'm driving back out there on Tuesday before work to drop off the whole shebang. I'm convinced it's a bad motherboard, since I just bought the power supply. Please keep in mind that previous to this, I've stripped, built, and re-stripped and re-built each computer like 3 times now.

Fifty bucks later, they tell me that the power supply I bought was faulty. Wonderful! So I buy yet another power supply (so far, I've spent just $160 on the power supply alone! What a bargain!) and this one works.

Only now Windows doesn't want to boot off of my main hard drive, which I salvaged out of my old PC.

At this point, it's been about a week and a half's worth of work just trying to get this thing running, and I have a bit of a breakdown, and get so frustrated that I start punching myself in the forehead. HARD. I just felt so stupid as to why I couldn't figure out why Windows wouldn't boot.

And then I remembered; as an anti-piracy measure, they make you re-authenticate thier software if you do major hardware changes. Pirates are not hassled with this "feature," nor do they have to pay $300 for the priveledge of being this frustrated. Only there's no option for re-authenticate, so I have to re-install Windows, and am now in the process of re-downloading every god-damned security update for this piece of ass OS. Bonus: Microsoft Office also needs to be re-authenticated, and I can't find the DVD! YES! Hooray for paying for software you can't use and is a pain in the ass if you should ever, y'know, upgrade. Not to beat the old analogy to death, but this would be like me having to call the dealer just to get the "ignition codes" if I replaced an engine.

So anyway, I'm trying to enjoy my new hardaware, but I've got this nagging headache. And yes, it's both stress and phsyical. The skin's mighty tender from all the punching.

Thank god I don't bruise. I'd look really stupid at work (yes, more than usual, har).

It's Got Something to Do With Closets

So R Kelly just released this new album, and while I normally don't like his stuff, this one is extra bad with a heaping side of awful sauce on the side. A kid today in a motion shoot was all "no, the lyrics are so descriptive, it's like you can see what's going on!"

Here's a sample of when he's almost discovered in the closet, hiding because the husband of the woman he was sleeping with just came home:

He walks up to the closet
He’s close up to the closet
Now he’s at the closet
Now he’s opening the closet

I know, I know, it's riveting.

Later, he actually tries to use the word "climax" as dialog when his wife is achieving orgasm. Yes, it's as painful as it sounds.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Getting it Wrong. Again.

CSI: Miami just aired an ep where they tried to somehow tie in Tony Hawk, video-games, and motion capture all into one episode, and barely managed to get the Tony Hawk (guest-star) part right.

A lot of people (I guess mainly actual crime-scene forensics experts) complain that the tech on the show is mostly fictional, that it's based somewhat in reality but they "trump" it up a bit to make the episodes flow faster. An example is that they don't use the chemical spray Luminol to make bodily fluids reflect black light; they just use some amber plastic to look at stuff bathed in black light and suddenly it glows. Saves a lot of scenes with spray-bottles.

So it is with no surprise that they completely botched the parts which encompass motion capture. In no particular order:

1). They had a sixteen camera rig set up to capture a guy skating on a half-pipe. The cameras were only set to 9 feet, and aimed down. In other words, they were capturing the flat of the ramp at the bottom, not the action at the top. To get a half-pipe captured properly (and all the crucial data in this case is above the lip of the half-pipe), you'd need about a 32 camera rig, with 16 of the cameras aimed up above ten feet. They weren't even spread out optimally for floor coverage.

2). The software used wasn't Vicon's IQ'd or Bodybuilder. They intentionally showed it was Vicon's cameras, but didn't use Vicon's software.

3). At one point, they attempted to prove that there were two different skaters skating, one on Thursday night, and a different one on Friday. They used some fictional software which evidently measured the biometrics of the data to determine that one guy was 6'4" and one guy was 6'2". All the tech had to do was check the template file from the mocap setup each night, and it would have told him that there were two different actors in the suits. No need to go outside of the mocap software to solve this mystery. In fact, he couldn't even have displayed the same data side-by-side for comparison without loading the separate template files; the data from Friday wouldn't play on Thursday's setup file if it was a different actor.

4). They showed the murder (of Tony Hawk) was recorded on the mocap sofware. Tony Hawk was not wearing any mocap sensors, and was in casual clothing at the time of his character's murder. The data cannot be recorded if you're not wearing sensors in key areas of your body.

5). Nevermind the fact that in both nights (Thursday and Friday) the actor was in the studio alone. Someone needs to run and monitor motion capture equipment. You don't just click "record" and leave it run for a half an hour. Someone knowledgeable needs to set it up, and run it.

6). The "solo" data that was being recorded would have had to be recorded in one long, continuous take. For this reason, I immediately suspected a motion capture data editor as the murderer, because nobody wants to clean up a single half hour long take. In fact, I'm pretty sure there isn't a system in existance that could fit that file in RAM.

I know it sounds like pointless nitpicking (hey, it is, but it's fun), but they had to buy or borrow/rent the cameras from Vicon. All they had to do was ask a Vicon tech to come in and set everything up, and consult on the show for a day. He could have fixed all of those problems in ten minutes.

But I don't really expect Hollywood to ever go out of their way in search of the truth or to attempt to get facts straight. That might require some effort on their part.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Yet Another 4th

Went to Skydive Chicago yet again this year, for their annual 4th of July extravaganza. As usual, we enjoyed the intimate setting of sitting so close to the fireworks you get ashes dropped on you if the wind even hints in your direction. The food was pretty good, the pre-game show was good (people dropping out of the sky every 10 minutes and landing not 50 yards away from you, watching the plane take-off and land on the runway 100 yards away) the show was wonderful, etc etc etc.

This year's fun take-away moments:

1). The twin-engine aircraft buzzing the spectators on his final pass before landing, and then just landing it in the grass after he circled back around because it's shorter than actually using the runway and taxi-ways. "Negative, the pattern is full."

2). Watching one of the swoopers (when you come in extra-fast intentionally so you're flying horizontally over the ground) screw up his swoop over the swoop pond (you dip your feet in the pond as you glide over it), and wound up going in for a very fast drink, and skidding up onto shore.

3). A newbie student landed "the wrong way" and wound up landing like 500 yards out downfield. Had to take the "walk of shame" back to the hangar. I didn't laugh, though. I'm sure if it was me I'd land in Indiana.

4). Being so far out in the country, you could actually look up into the sky and see the dividing line between night and day. On one horizon, it was sunset, with pink clouds and a peach/golden glow, then blue sky eventually faded almost at a line into pitch black night with stars showing on the other horizon.

5). During the lulls inbetween the fireworks, realizing that the Big Dipper was the backdrop to the night's big show.

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